Alchemy Symbols and Meanings – Alchemical Signs List of Elements


Alchemy symbols are part of the scientific and the philosophical tradition. This tradition aims to perfect and purify certain objects
These alchemical signs until the 18th century represent the individual elements.  The Symbols and signs varied between chemists even though the system of symbols was uniform


Alchemic Jewelry. Click image for more information


Origin of the Alchemy Signs


The art of alchemy started centuries ago in Egypt and Arabia. Then later to Rome and Greece. Finally to the Central and Western Europe.  

The word “Alchemy” has its origin from the Arabian phrase “al-Kimia”. The Egyptian tradition of preparing stone or elixir. “Kimia” itself is an Arabic root from the Coptic “Khem,” which fertile black soil of the Nile Delta.  Also, the word refers to the profound mystery of the aboriginal or First Matter (the Khem).

alchemical symbols

Alchemy Symbols and their Meanings list

This is the list of the main elements.

Prime elements

According to Paracelsus, there are three prime elements that compose material substances:
  • Mercury  (meaning Mind).  It is one of the three heavenly substances as well as the seven metals of alchemy. To alchemists, the mercury alchemical symbol rises above both the liquid and solid states. Both heaven and earth, and even death and life.  Mercury symbolize the planet  “Mercury” in astrology. A serpent or snake usually symbolize the metal.

  • Salt  (meaning body). Alchemists believe salt is a divine substance. With mercury and sulfur. Salt is sacred and is a religious and social symbol for ages. It represents:
    • Brotherhood.
    • Friendship.
    • Purity.
    • Good things of life.

  • Sulfur  (meaning Spirit): Alchemists use sulfur alchemy symbol widely in their practice. It is one of the three heavenly substances.


Seven Planetary Metals

There are seven metals that connect with the seven traditional planets and seven deities. All which recognized in alchemical symbolism.
The planet’s alchemic symbol is used for these metals even though each has an elemental symbol that represents it.
  • Lead:  Lead is used to represent the Planet Saturn in astrology. It is the first and oldest of the seven metals of alchemic science.
  • Iron   : Iron is one of the seven metals of alchemy. It symbolizes the planet Mars in astrology.
  • Tin : Tin alchemical sign is used to symbolize planet Jupiter in astrology. It is one of the seven metals of the alchemical process.
  •  Gold : Gold is one of the seven metals of alchemy. The alchemists believe gold is the perfection of all matter at all levels (including the spirit, soul, and mind). In astrology, the symbol for gold represents the sun.
  •  Mercury  :  Mercury is one of the seven metals of alchemy.  Other name is quicksilver. Quicksilver reacts with nitric acid as a thick red vapor floats over the surface. It dazzle red crystals forms rapidly at the bottom.
  •  Silver: In astrology, the symbol for silver is associated with the moon.
  •  Copper : Copper is used to symbolize the planet, Venus. 


Other alchemist symbol elements:


  • Antimony :  The metal antimony stands for the wild spirit of man and nature or the animal nature. The wolf sign usually represents it.  
  • Arsenic: Arsenic was sometimes represented by the image of a swan.Early alchemists used it.
  • Bismuth : The role that Bismuth paid in alchemical process could not be ascertained even though references were made to him in texts.
  • Magnesium : “Magnesia alba” (white magnesia) which was magnesium carbonate was used by alchemists. Other name is “mild magnesian earth.”
  • Phosphorus: Alchemists used light to represent the spirit. The light fascinate them. It seems to be in a matter such as phosphorus.
  • Platinum : Alchemists refer to platinum as a combination of silver and gold.
  • Potash:  Alchemists used Potash (potassium carbonate) in alchemical processes.
  • Zinc: Zinc oxide (Philosopher’s wool or nix alba) was derived by burning zinc in the air.
  • Quintessence: Also known as “hermetic seal of light”. The quintessence has its roots in the ancient Pythagorean philosophy. This symbol is all the elements necessary for alchemical transformation. It includes the triangle, the circle, and the square which represents the spirit, soul, and body.
  • Diamond : The alchemists consider diamond powerful. They associate it with refracting light. Its sparkle and shine symbolize clarity, vision, understanding, keen perception, and awareness.


Finally, The four primary elements of life are: Fire, Water, Earth,  and Air .


Alchemy Symbol for life



The symbol that represents life in alchemic science is the Mercury Sign.


Alchemical Symbol for death

Mercury is also the alchemical symbol for death.


Alchemy Symbol for Fire

The triangle is the alchemic sign for fire.

What Was the Objective of the Alchemists?

Alchemists are the first chemists. They created a unique language instead of the chemical symbols we use in modern times. This language represent all kinds of objects, from philosophical tenet to chemical reactions.

In summary, alchemists have three aims:

  • To discover the Philosopher’s Stone (the Stone of Knowledge).
  • Find the medium of Eternal Youth and Health.
  • To find out the transmutation of metals.
Also, the medieval alchemist believes that the different elements were the same original substance in varying levels of innocence. Gold was the purest of all the alchemic signs with silver following.
The early history of alchemical process points to the fact that the planet’s astrological symbols were also used to represent alchemical symbols and signs.
The whole concept took another turn during the centuries of medieval suppression and persecution. Then,different alchemist created their secret codes.
Finally, scientists intervened during the 18th Century and strived to separate the genuine accomplishments of alchemy from magic in:
  • Pharmacology.
  • Medicine.
  • Chemistry.
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